The untold story on how and why Tororo failed to be on the list of new cities


President Museveni commissioning one of the roads in Tororo Municipality last year. A Eagle Online Photo.


TORORO POLITICS: GOOD ARE NOT GOOD, THE BAD ARE NOT BAD

By Odaka Asuman

On 28th April 2020, Parliament debated the creation of 15 new cities as part of alterations of boundaries under article 179 (1) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.

That day, watching the Clerk to Parliament calling on MPs to attend the plenary discussion about the above subject brought me bitter memories of how the Tororo mafias frustrated a near success effort of Tororo on the first list.

Through lobbying by ordinary young men and women from Tororo generally, the effort had reached the President and Speaker’s offices and both were convinced about its viability and the impartiality with which it was making the government work in resolving the matters of Tororo easy.

These two critical centres of decision making were only waiting for the backing and voices of support from the political and the cultural leadership especially the Tieng Adhola Cultural Institution (TACI) and their affiliated MPs which unfortunately came in form of frustrating the idea.

And, if I may quote one MP who led the crusade of frustrating and killing the idea, he said “….am not disagreeing because the idea is bad or wrong but because it’s not mooted by the people who are supposed to speak for Padhola.”

This was at the Centenary Park in a meeting called to demobilise support against the effort. Although I had not been invited, I gate crashed to attend and got a dose of insults from the MP for being part of those pushing for the idea. The meeting ended in chaos.

That same evening, their agent at TACI wrote a letter to the speaker of Parliament, copied the president’s office and all relevant offices rejecting the idea and distancing from the “group” that had signed the petition and in fact called for their arrest if possible. He named the people he wanted arrested and even posted names on Facebook which, of course, got shared and reposted by their propaganda human machines.

How the debate started

The year was 2017 when the debate about Tororo had taken a very simplistic twist. 

A group had carefully been constructed and made themselves the guardians and spokespersons on matters of Tororo.  But on carefully examining how they were handling matters, it bearded all the hallmarks of a mafia network bent on destroying the historical glory of Tororo and grabbing everything that remains to themselves. 

They had successfully taken charge of the politics and Cultural Institution and therefore with the money and means of propaganda.

A group of young men and women who had detected this, thought they would try doing things differently. They mobilized resources, hired a consultant who compiled a high-level report detailing the viability of Tororo to be a city based on history, geographical location, political prominence, economic sustainability, social enrichment and availability of needed amenities. 

On top of this research report, a petition was generated and submitted to the speaker and president’s offices. This came at a time when the president was stuck and looking for a way to resolve the Tororo question and therefore it was the best moment for the push. 

A small word of support from the cultural and Political leaders was just enough. Unfortunately there was a lot of energy to fight it from our own while telling Kwara and the public alternative facts. 

There is even a public evidence that the president had bought into the idea. 

In 2017 while appearing on Buddo FM Radio in Masaka on his Land Bill sensitisation tours, Mr Museveni mentioned Tororo and its potentials over 5 times in just one radio talk show.

One, in praise of Tororo, the president told the listeners in Masaka (not Tororo) that in case of East African Political Federation, Tororo is likely be the metropolitan capital and headquarters of EAC because of its centrality.

2. That Tororo has all minerals that ever existed in the world except one (which he didn’t mention). 

3. That the kind of iron ore found in Tororo is the best in the world.

4. That he was going to construct a steel factory in Tororo with an annual return of $300m.

5. Tororo was going to become the metropolitan industrial city of EAC

In addition to that, Tororo has its infrastructures that only needed to be upgraded and it will anchor the new status in a community of modern cities.

Other potentials include;

1. Tourism destinations; beautiful rock, diversified culture, cultural sites (e.g. who has ever told the world that Obama’s journey to President of America started around Senda, West Budama in Tororo district?)

2. Transport hub; Headquarters of Standard Gauge Railway, Great North Road, water transport in Majansi, cargo airport (whose land is now housing estates of some people known in Tororo).

3. Malaba Boarder (alone generating up to 40% of all the revenue collected from the boarder points.

Population criterion:

WESTERN    REGION

Kabale              52,000                           

Mbarara             216,000                                    

Fort Portal          596,000               

Hoima                 118,000                             

CENTRAL REGION

Wakiso             1.9 million                            

Masaka            114,300                    

Nakasongola     10,289            

Entebbe              96,000                  

NORTHERN REGION

Arua                  70,700              

Gulu                 172,700                  

Lira                   113,500                 

Moroto             15,900                 

EASTERN REGION

Mbale                 108,100                 

Soroti                  58,800                

Jinja                     82,200                

(Tororo.           52,193)               

The only reason all regions have four cities except Eastern is because our own so called leaders of Tororo fought it out of the list.

Tororo is one of the oldest Municipalities and with a population bigger than Nakasongola, Moroto and almost equals to Kabale.

These are political cities and Tororo had met all the political criteria to be one of them. 

Masaka had been left but Buganda Kingdom’s voice saw it onto the list, Mbale had also been left out, youth demonstrations saw it onto the list.

Our cultural institution couldn’t do much because some bad people have taken charge of it.

And I ask, are the good people really good and the bad really the bad…?

The writer is an aspiring MP candidate Tororo Municipality (next election)

WhatsApp: +256 753 195 384

Email: asumanmrjn@gmail.com


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